House hunting in France: a rough diamond near the Basque coast

A nine-bedroom villa in the southwest of France 5.6 MILLION DOLLARS (4.95 MILLION EUROS) This neo-Basque style nine-bedroom apartment ...


This neo-Basque style nine-bedroom apartment Villa sits on 1.85 acres of grassy grounds in Winter Park, a quiet residential area outside the city center of Biarritz, the resort town on the French Basque coast, near the border with Spain.

Built in 1920, the 6,458 square foot home was last renovated in the late 1990s and has been vacant for five years. “You have to do renovations,” said Philippe Thomine-Desmazures, associate director of Barnes International Realty, Côte Basque, which has the listing.

A gravel driveway leads to the covered front porch. The entrance hall has a checkerboard floor and a powder room. Double wooden doors open into a living room with high ceilings, terracotta floors and a large fireplace. French windows with transoms lead to the garden.

Beyond a trio of arches, a library with fireplace, a double living room with a bay window and a banquet-style dining room with abundant moldings, each with wooden floors and doors opening onto a terrace or garden.

The kitchen has a white and blue patterned ceramic tile floor, with a La Cornue cooker against one wall and a glass front with wood trim against another. Through a living room arch, a stone staircase with a decorative metal balustrade leads to a Juliette balcony overlooking the ground floor.

The master bedroom, in the center of the second floor, has pink wallpaper, floor-to-ceiling curtains and transom double doors opening onto a terrace. To one side is a bathroom with a barrel-shaped coffered ceiling above a clawfoot tub. On the other side, a bathtub with a wooden surround from a second bathroom next to the bedroom juts into an office with cabinets, shelves and windows overlooking the property.

Flanking the master suite are two further bedrooms with wooden floors, decorative moldings and double patio doors. Each has a full bath with a clawfoot tub.

The third floor has five bedrooms. The largest has a seating area under exposed beams and a sky-lit bathroom. Two other bedrooms have exposed beams above the dormer windows. A smaller nursery and maid’s rooms share a separate bathroom and dresser.

The basement includes a gas boiler room, a wine cellar and storage rooms.

The overgrown garden has plenty of room for a swimming pool, Mr Thomine-Desmazures said, and an annex building can accommodate two to three cars and caretaker accommodation.

The house is within walking distance of local bakeries, while the restaurants and shops of central Biarritz are around 1.5 km away. Once a small fishing village, Biarritz, with just over 25,000 inhabitants on the Bay of Biscay, has become a favorite winter residence of the British and a darling of the royal family (“the queen of seaside resorts and the resort seaside resort of kings”) after Napoleon III and his Spanish Empress, Eugenievisited in 1854. It has long been considered the French capital of surfing.

Biarritz Pays Basque Airport, with flights to eight European countries, is a three-minute drive from the house. San Sebastián, the nearest town in Spain, is a 30-minute drive away.

Before the pandemic, most sales in Biarritz were for second homes used in the high season, from April to October, when the population often quadrupled. “Biarritz and its region have been highly sought after for second homes since imperial times,” said Bénédicte Marchal, director of Biarritz Sotheby’s International Realty. “A lot of people from the aristocracy like to be in Biarritz.”

But since 2020, as in resorts around the world, the market has become younger. “We have seen many, many people between the ages of 35 and 45 moving here to work remotely, or to go to work two to three days a week in Paris, Madrid or London and come back,” said Mr. Thomine-Desmazures, l listing agent. . “We have seen many, many people who have moved their families here. It was a booming market with Covid.

These newcomers have found a tight seller’s market with skyrocketing prices. In recent years, only small buildings of 10 to 15 apartments have been built in Biarritz and amenities are rare. “It’s hard to tear down and build something new,” said Thomine-Desmazures.

The pandemic has added another layer of complexity, as stocks have dwindled further. “We have assets that we operate off-market, confidentially, and some people prefer that,” Ms. Marchal said. “People are afraid to sell because they don’t know if they can buy something else. They don’t want to get stuck.

Difficult conditions in Biarritz have led to an average rise of 15% in house prices over the past year, with luxury homes up 30% “if the property is well renovated and is on the front line of the sea,” Ms. Marchal said. .

Mr Thomine-Desmazures said the average sale price in his office last year was 1.45 million euros ($1.64 million), with 50 homes between 1 million and 1.5 million Euros ($1.13 million and $1.7 million) and 10 sold for over $3 million. euros ($3.4 million).

Stanislas de Roumefort, a partner at Côte Ouest Immobilier, a subsidiary of Christie’s International Real Estate, said local prices had doubled since 2016, including a 40% rise in the past two years. “The market in the area was the most dynamic area in terms of real estate in the country last year, and it is not because of the Covid,” said Mr. de Roumefort. “The only reason — and it is only this reason — is the bank. You can go to the bank, get money and buy.

In his business, he said, an investor client bought four properties at 2 million euros apiece ($2.26 million), down just 15%, and sold the land for around 16 million. euros ($18.1 million), he said. Ms. Marchal also noted an influx of investors aiming to create full-service luxury rentals, complete with butlers and cooks.

Villas with sea views sell for between 3 and 10 million euros ($3.4 million and $11.3 million), Mr de Roumefort said.

High-ceilinged apartments carved out of early 20th-century split palaces and villas fetch more than houses with balconies in 1960s or 1970s tenements. “Older buildings cost more,” Ms. Marchal said. .

Even with the rise near the Basque coast, prices are still cheaper than on the French Riviera, where properties can fetch up to $40 million, Ms. Marchal said. “It’s more authentic, confidential and discreet than the Côte d’Azur,” she says. “The coastline is even more intact, wild.”

About 80% of buyers in Biarritz and the Basque Coast are French, coming mainly from Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Buyers are also arriving from Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States, agents said.

Many French buyers are expatriates, while others come from Germany, Italy and Russia. “Mr. Putin has two houses in Biarritz,” Mr. de Roumefort said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “His ex-wife has a house and his daughter has a house.”

An hour to the east, in the rolling hills of the Occitanie region of southwestern France, prices are relatively attractive and British buyers predominate, said Jack Harris, partner in the International Residential department of Knight Frank, based in London. American buyers are also looking for large castle-type properties or authentic mansions.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in France. Closing costs, paid by the buyer, are about 7.5% of the price, Ms. Marchal said. Most sales are managed by notaries working on behalf of the government, for both the seller and the buyer.

Since January 1, French mortgages cannot exceed 25 years and the debt ratio cannot exceed 35%.

Due to the reluctance of major French banks to lend to US citizens, most US buyers should consider a cash purchase, Mr. Harris said.

French; euro (1 euro = $1.13)

The annual property tax on this house is 5,000 euros ($5,663).

Philippe Thomine-Desmazures, Barnes International Realty Côte Basque, 011-33-6-62-68-81-91; barnes-cotebasque.com

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Newsrust - US Top News: House hunting in France: a rough diamond near the Basque coast
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